England chief dental officer urges dentists to prepare for ‘new era of dental care’

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England’s chief dental officer has urged dentists to prepare for a ‘new era of dental care’ after the Coronavirus crisis.

In a letter sent out to dental professionals, Sara Hurley explained that public health concerns would limit the return to normal practice, with routine procedures and appointments expected to be delayed for several weeks. As practices are expected to be closed until the government’s five key measures for easing lockdown are met, the emergency dental centre system will continue to run to ensure patients have access to urgent treatment. While transmission is “sustained” and the number of infections confirmed each day remains high, it is not safe to open surgeries, but Ms Hurley stressed that the situation is under constant review. 

The letter stated that dentists had experience in making difficult decisions, but stressed that making mistakes at this time could have “significant” ramifications.  

Ms Hurley also outlined plans to increase access to NHS dental care to support demand for services following the pandemic and urged dental professionals to continue following updated infection control and PPE guidelines.

It is not yet known when any of the lockdown measures will be eased, but scientists and ministers have made it clear that risks will not be taken. Lifting restrictions could elevate the infection rate, putting the nation at risk of a second wave.

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